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For a Dyslexic: All-About-Spelling or Phonetic Zoo?

spelling phonetic zoo

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#1 Sunkirst

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 12:13 PM

So it's that time of year when I start to evaluate and decide what to change in the coming year. Spelling needs to change.

We started the year with Sequential Spelling, and while my (mildly dyslexic) DS did well day to day, none of it was translating to his writing. He writes in a phonetic way (so could is cood), and his spelling is very influenced by how he pronounces words (so always is alwees). My DH proposed that we help DS type, so that he can see all the red underlining as he misspells and learn to use spell check. We found, however, that spell check rarely has the correct option, as DS's spellings are so crazy. Really poor speller...

So I'm looking into programs. I think DS would benefit from learning spelling rules (he's a Why? kid). I would love to have the freedom of Phonetic Zoo, but I can see that AAS's multi-sensory approach might really help things stick in his brain. PZ is also more than I want to pay for spelling, but if it worked, and it was something else he could do on his own... Please share your experiences.

Thanks again,

#2 mktyler

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 01:07 PM

This has been the situation for my dd. I have looked at a ton of different programs, tried quite a few (though not the ones you are asking about as they are similar in content to others). This is what is helping us inch forward:

Lots of copywork, over and over. I give her a passage to read. Then I dictate. We talk about the words she misses. She rewrites the passage till it is 100% correct. We do it again the next day. When she can get it right a couple of times in a row, we move on. Each passage has about 70 words. Right now the passages are drawn from "A Child's History of the Word" by Hilyer. Additional practice of the words in the passage which the child composes is also helpful.

Most rules can be more confusing than helpful, because very few rules in English actually work a majority of the time. The problem is that there are so many legal options.

Rules that apply to meaning are the most helpful, such as add -ed for past tense, whether it represents the sounds /e/+ /d/ (landed), /d/ (calmed), or /t/ (jumped); or the prefix re- meaning to do again. When writing, what the child has is the meaning of the word, so these types of rules can be helpful, even if it takes a lot of repetition to learn the rule. Rules that focus on probability, such as often the /k/ sound is spelled 'ck' when it is at the end of a short word and following a vowel sound that we arbitrarily call 'short', except in words where its not such as sicken, mockery, mackerel (and at least 65 others) has too many components and too many exceptions for the easily muddled child.

Explicit instruction in the phonetic parts of English is imperative for children who struggle with reading. If your son is still struggling with his reading, there are several good programs. However, the information is not as useful for spelling, as long as the child is reading well.

The benefits of the dictation/composition/copywork exercises are:
1) The words are learned in a meaningful context. Meaning and spelling are linked.

2) It is efficient. It eliminates the work that is not producing effect (lists and tests) and has them practicing the skills spelling is meant for (using the words in context).

3) Its free!

4) It focuses effort on the words the child does not know. Patterns and rules can be addressed as they come up, in a word specific way. For example, my daughter had the word 'edition' to work on and she missed the spelling of 'tion'. We talked about the meaning of the word-part 'tion' in which it changes a verb to a noun, connecting it to the word 'edit'. The /t/ sound of the word helps remind her that the /sh/ sound is spelled with a 'ti'.


Melissa
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#3 Carol in Cal.

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 01:27 PM

Is your child an audio learner? Mine is, and she used to spell much as he does. PZ teaches some phonics rules, and also teaches exceptions. The fact that she hears the rules and the spellings of all the words until she achieves 100% twice leads to true mastery. After using PZ for about a year, her spelling is much better, and she tells me that she hears the rules in her head when she is trying to remember how to spell something. The audio component of it has really worked for her.

#4 MerryAtHope

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 03:55 PM

We also tried Sequential Spelling (and a number of programs before that). SS actually just confused my son (who likely has dyslexia) more. I think it works best if you have a child who likes to learn by a discovery-oriented method. My son definitely wanted to know "why" and he felt SS set him up to fail by being discovery-oriented instead of telling him up front what's expected and why things work that way.

We also tried lots of copywork, and while I saw more benefits from that than from most other methods I tried, it wasn't systematic enough for my son. I continue to do lots of copywork and really focus on having my kids say the sounds as they write--spell with their ears and then look with their eyes. Words like "could" are exceptions to the regular phonics rules, so they need that second step of looking with their eyes & learning those exceptions.

I haven't used Phonetic Zoo so I really can't compare. AAS has helped us tremendously, more than anything else we've used. I think any Orton Gillingham approach has the potential to help your child, as long as the method is one that will work for you as a teacher. I like that AAS has everything organized for me and I can open and go each day, there's lots of built in review, the approach is incremental & with the reasons so it makes sense to my kids, and also that there is built in dictation. This I think is one of the crucial steps for making spelling transition into their writing, instead of just memorizing words or patterns for a list. I wrote more about AAS on my blog & also have some pics there.

You might also consider whether your current issue is more one of editing than of spelling. It's pretty normal for kids, especially below jr. high age, to make spelling errors and other mechanics errors when they are concentrating on getting ideas down on paper. (Adults do this too!) Can he come back the next day and identify those errors? That's another approach that has helped my kids take more ownership of their writing. Those mistakes are just hard to see the first day, plus after putting forth all the effort to write--they're too tired to go back and edit and really see the mistakes at that point.

Well, I hope you find what will work best for your son!

Merry :-)

#5 Sunkirst

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 05:24 PM

Thank you all for taking the time and effort to give me such thorough responses - I appreciate it so much.

Melissa, you may well be right. We have tried copywork and dictation before - in fact this is the first year that my son is reading well enough to do writing and spelling - so copywork and dictation are all that we have ever done. However, I have never been as systematic as it sound like you are with your method. In fact, I've been rather slipshod - creating sentences that I think he could handle, having him try once, then making corrections. Do you have a source for the rules and patterns you study, or does your knowledge come from being a "reading program junkie?" (We too are junkies - but the Orton-Gillingham book- which seemed to have a lot of spelling/phonics rules was just borrowed from the library long enough to make flashcards).

Carol, I do think that he is an audio learner. At least I know he loves books on tape, and can really zone in on those. This is what first attracted me to PZ. That and the independence. But sadly, not the price.

Merry, I too have a Jedi Knight, and your remark about SS working better for those who relish discovery is right on target for my ds. He had no wish to discover or retain any of what he was doing. In fact, I spend a good part of each lesson trying to explain why? As to editing - He does not notice his errors unless I point out that a word is misspelled. Then he can get it, if he has learned the word. How much dictation does AAS incorporate? The samples I saw (book 1) were brief, with no meaning attached to them (not a passage from a book or such). Does this change? Are review words used in dictation? (Now off to read your blog :))

Thanks All,

#6 siloam

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 05:28 PM

Kristen,

I haven't used Phonetic Zoo, so I can't compare at all. I have recently started using AAS, and I really am enjoying it. In fact I am thinking of applying some of the ideas to SWR. :D

While I can't speak for your child, I personally prefer to know the rules. I am dyslexic, and I have poor visual memory, so trying to memorize words just won't get me far. AAS has the child learn the sounds of letters by the most commonly used to the least. Thus for a you learn /a/ as in apple, /A/ and in bake and /ah/ as in father in that order because /a/ as in apple is the most commonly used. No the rules don't give you 100% guarentee of sucess, and it takes a long time for them to sink in (I have been doing SWR with my oldest two for two years and the rules are just starting to sink in and be applied outside of hs), but they give a dyslexic tools to give them a better chance at spelling the word correctly and keeps them fresh on their phonics so they just might sound out that word instead of guess. ;) (Says the person who once read the name Nicholas as Nicolatte-yes as in coffee, I think I was hoping for one at the time, LOL! A Latte, that is.)

Heather


#7 inashoe

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 05:34 PM

You can do a simple test to see if your child is an auditory or a visual learner.

First show him a single numerical digit (print it clearly on a paper), eg. 7, take it away and ask him to tell you what it was.
Then write down a different two digit number, eg 36. this must be completely different to the previous number. Show it to him, take it away, and ask him to tell you what it was. You want the answer three - six, not thirty six.
Now write down a new number, three digits, again quite different to the previous numbers, eg 815. Show it to him, take it away and ask him to tell you what it was. Again, you want to hear eight- one - five, not eight hundred, fifteen.
Keep going until the number of digits is too many for him to accurately tell back to you.
Make a note of how many digits he remembered without an error.

Now you are going to do the same, but orally.
Say a single digit, eg,5.
Then ask him to tell you what it was.
Then say two digits, quite different to any you had done before, eg 93 - you would say nine-three (not ninety-three)
Keep adding a digit, completely different each time, and asking him to repeat them back to you.
Keep going until he makes a mistake.
Make a note of how many digits he could tell you without an error.

Compare, did he remember more digits when he saw them (visual learner) or when he heard them (auditory learner).

Hope this helps.

#8 inashoe

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 05:38 PM

PZ has worked wonders for my son, an auditory learner.
His spelling was quite atrocious. Now for any word families that he has covered thus far in PZ he is generally showing great improvement.

When I pointed some correct spellings out to him in other writing, he looked at me blank, and commented "but that is an easy word."
Ha ha, not so only a few weeks ago !

He is progressing more slowly than his younger siblings, both natural spellers, but that doesn't matter.
He is showing such improvement, and increased confidence in his spelling, that I am thrilled.

My two natural spellers are using PZ because I have it, but actually I think any program would have worked for them.

#9 Carol in Cal.

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 07:08 PM

My two natural spellers are using PZ because I have it, but actually I think any program would have worked for them.



And I think that you're right--any program would have worked with me, mostly because I didn't actually learn spelling from a program. I learned it from reading.

What I wish I had learned, but was never taught, is all of the phonics rules. I have learned some of them and inferred others, but was never systematically taught them.

PZ does teach a lot of phonics rules, but I don't believe that it teaches all of them, so maybe your natural spellers would appreciate learning the rest.

I'm not the right person to ask how to do this, though. My DD, who is most emphatically NOT a natural speller, really needed the PZ approach to get anywhere with her spelling. And so I'm not going to be muddying the waters by following up PZ with an extended phonics program for her. I'm just grateful that, for the last 2 years, she has finally been making progress; after I had torn my hair out for so long over this issue.

(It is funny having learned spelling and punctuation from reading. I have learned on this board that most of the spellings and punctuations of which I am uncertain are ones that vary between British and American English. So I must have seen them both ways over the years, and that's why I never really knew for sure which were correct.)

#10 Sunkirst

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 07:35 PM

Thanks inashoe - What a simple test. That will help with this choice.

I might just leave this choice to the young man in question. He watched Mr. Pudewa's youtube presentation of PZ, and he was impressed. He really wants something that he can do on his own too, as most of our curriculum choices tend to be rather mom-intensive (however, anytime I step back, I find that he still needs my input).

Another factor is my younger ones. I have read that AAS can double as a beginning reading program. Anyone out there care to comment on that?

#11 Sunkirst

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 07:49 PM

Heather,

I used some home-made flashcards modeled after SWR to drill ds during the long process of learning to read, and at one point he really did remember the majority of them.

I guess what I'm wondering is if AAS manages to make the whole first choice, second choice, third choice thing less cumbersome. I can just remember ds coming to a word with /ou/ and mumbling ow, oh, ew, uh, and trying the word with all those different sounds to see which one actually worked to form a word he knew. He hated anything having to do with reading at that point, but I do think that he gradually internalized most of those flashcards. Now he says that he still sounds out some words, but that most words he just remembers. In fact he now prefers to read long books, because after becoming familiar with the author's general word choices, he can really read quickly :).

Thanks for your perspective,

#12 siloam

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:21 PM

Another factor is my younger ones. I have read that AAS can double as a beginning reading program. Anyone out there care to comment on that?


Yes it can. The biggest problem in doing that is it will assume a child can memorize the consonant sounds pretty quickly. I think it is by lesson 6 it assumes a child knows them, so if they have never been exposed to those sounds before I think it would be simpler to use a program like Get Ready, Set, Go for the Code to learn them, then do AAS level 1. The vowels are introduced one sound at a time, so I wouldn't think those would be a problem.

Heather



#13 Caroline4kids

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:30 PM

This has been the situation for my dd. I have looked at a ton of different programs, tried quite a few (though not the ones you are asking about as they are similar in content to others). This is what is helping us inch forward:

Lots of copywork, over and over. I give her a passage to read. Then I dictate. We talk about the words she misses. She rewrites the passage till it is 100% correct. We do it again the next day. When she can get it right a couple of times in a row, we move on. Each passage has about 70 words. Right now the passages are drawn from "A Child's History of the Word" by Hilyer. Additional practice of the words in the passage which the child composes is also helpful.


The benefits of the dictation/composition/copywork exercises are:
1) The words are learned in a meaningful context. Meaning and spelling are linked.

2) It is efficient. It eliminates the work that is not producing effect (lists and tests) and has them practicing the skills spelling is meant for (using the words in context).

3) Its free!

4) It focuses effort on the words the child does not know. Patterns and rules can be addressed as they come up, in a word specific way. For example, my daughter had the word 'edition' to work on and she missed the spelling of 'tion'. We talked about the meaning of the word-part 'tion' in which it changes a verb to a noun, connecting it to the word 'edit'. The /t/ sound of the word helps remind her that the /sh/ sound is spelled with a 'ti'.


Melissa
Minnesota
Reading Program Junkie
dd(10) dd(6) ds(4) ds(1)


:iagree:
We have used Phonetic Zoo, great program, but it just wasn't a great fit for my kids. I used real dictation for the first time this year. Previously, my kids did copious amounts of copywork and still it wasn't traslating into their other written work. Dictation seems to be the glue that pulls it all together. Since dictation is so similar to real writing in that they have to pull things from their brain and get it on paper in a meaningful way, it seems to bridge that cavern between short-term memory and long.

Also, dictation exercises that are pulled from their reading generally contain lots of those high-frequency words that often defy spelling rules.

After they do dictation we then discuss any strange phonetic rules that are contained within the passage.

Also www.thephonicspage.org has wonderful, free, phonics lessons that I use with my kids yearly to brush up on phonics.

#14 siloam

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 10:16 PM

Heather,

I used some home-made flashcards modeled after SWR to drill ds during the long process of learning to read, and at one point he really did remember the majority of them.

I guess what I'm wondering is if AAS manages to make the whole first choice, second choice, third choice thing less cumbersome. I can just remember ds coming to a word with /ou/ and mumbling ow, oh, ew, uh, and trying the word with all those different sounds to see which one actually worked to form a word he knew. He hated anything having to do with reading at that point, but I do think that he gradually internalized most of those flashcards. Now he says that he still sounds out some words, but that most words he just remembers. In fact he now prefers to read long books, because after becoming familiar with the author's general word choices, he can really read quickly :).

Thanks for your perspective,



Kirsten,

Yes it does organize the words differently, which depending on the child I think it might really help. My 7yo had worked on the phonograms for a year before I started her on SWR, but still she was very discouraged by words like of, love, mother, out and school. She didn't get the whole think to spell idea either. I don't think we made it past list 5 before I ordered AAS. Interestingly enough AAS teaches that o can say /u/ so all those words became moot. ;)

AAS will work on phonological awareness first, which I don't remember SWR addressing at all. That is the ability to hear that bed is three sounds, and that bake is three sounds too. Then it works on short vowel sounds, switching out the sounds in the same consonants, so you cover mat, met, mot, mut, and mit. Nope they aren't all read words, but part of the point it just to work on sounding things out, even non-sense words. The first lesson with spelling words works on just short a words, then short e, short i, ect... Then it covers a few blends and I think the k vs c rule and the last lesson introduces long vowels. That is a rough outline of book 1.

Review is covered through cards, several sets of them. The phonograms have a cards you review. Then there are cards that cover things like vowels and consonants, that names start with capitals, and I think the spelling rules are in this section as well. There is also a set of cards that have the spelling rules on them. This is what you use for review. You shuffle them, and reintroduce them, or read through them. I have started having my 7yo spell 10 out loud (they are super easy for her) and read through 10 (to build fluency). Now I am thinking about going back to the beginning of SWR and doing something similar with the cards. That way I can also earmark one's they struggle with and come back to them over and over again. I have a little bit of that built in now, but not as much as I would like.

Anyway, I hope that gives you and idea of the touch and feel.

Heather



#15 mktyler

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:47 PM

Sunkist,

For the phonetic patterns (words with ou for /ow/, ou for /OO/, ou for /oe/, actually I think that is only shoulder and boulder, etc.) I analyzed 17,000 words in a dictionary. For the morphemic (meaning parts like prefix, suffix, and roots) patterns I use Vocabulary Through Morphemes (Sopris West is the publisher) and correlate it with my phonetic lists. The morphemic info can be found on the internet as well. Just google "affix meaning English". For that matter, if you google "spelling patterns English" or "spelling rules English" you'll get all the info you need.

Here's an example of what we have done, so you can see its not that big of a deal to do this way.

The passage is:
At first, however, our world, or Earth, was nothing but a ball of rock. This ball of rock was wrapped around with steam, like a heavy fog. Then the steam turned to rain, and it rained on the world, until it had filled up the hollows and made enormously big puddles. These puddles were the oceans. The dry places were bare rock.

First day: She reads the passage several times. Then I dictate it to her. She misses these words: however, wrapped, heavy, hollows, enormously, puddles. We talk about the words: however is a combination of how and ever, wrapped (double the consonant when adding past tense -ed, I chose not to teach her about "short" and "long" so omitted discussing it at this time), -ous of enormously means "full of" so the word means full of enormity, etc.
She studies the words. I have her underline the spellings for each sound: wrapped would be wr a pp ed. She says the sounds as she writes. I have her write the words 5-10 times. Then she copies the passage, including all the corrected spelling words. This takes 4 tries. (She's a tough, lovable, brilliant, nut to crack!)
Second day: Dictate the passage. She misses: wrapped, hollows, enormously. Study again. Copy again. Oh, she can now say the passage verbatim.
Third day: She starts throwing in some omission errors: tured for turned, seam for steam, etc. and misses enormously. We talk about ways to remember enormously and she decides to read it as /e-nor-mouse-ly/as she studies the word. Studies words. Copies. Require her to reread her writings by sound then word rather than by word alone (I know that doesn't make much sense, but it sounds like /a/ /t/ /at/ /f/ /ir/ /s/ /t/ /first/ /ou/ /r/ /our/ . . . she hates it but she catches her letter omissions that way)
Fourth day: Gets it right. Now I am going to through her for a loop and have her write some sentences with the words she missed over the week. Misses hollows as "hollowes." We talk about adding -s for plurals (again).
Fifth day: Dictation and sentences. Gets them right.
Add another passage next week. I throw some old passages in on occasion for review.

This actually gets her learning more words than the list method, which at most I was doing 20 words a week. Some words she just has to go over and over and others she learns more quickly. I can see that this is working much better because her general writing is improving. She is also wanting to write more, I think because she is feeling more confident. She has to write so much now that it feels natural.

The list method worked as far as a spelling test went but would never seem to cross over into her writing. With the dictation method, it is, because she is practicing what she needs to be doing: writing words in context.

Melissa
Minnesota
Reading Program Junkie
dd(10) dd(6) ds(4) ds(1)

#16 NoPlaceLikeHome

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 12:58 AM

I would check out webster's speller and any posts by ElizabethB on the topic. She also offers free phonics lessons on her website. Webster's speller can be found on DonPotter's website (just google) as well as numerous free phonics programs for downloading:):):)

I hope this helps:001_smile:
sincerely,
priscilla

#17 PollyOR

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 02:51 AM

I'm sorry I can't compare the two. My 13 yodd uses PZ. She is an auditory learner and this program has been a real blessing for her. Before PZ she was so afraid of misspelling words that she would shut down (tears) if I asked her to write anything. Once she found out that she CAN spell, she decided to start writing a book. Pretty amazing! I never thought I would see the day. :)

#18 Sunkirst

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 10:34 PM

Melissa, your description of your method is fantastic and makes a ton of sense. Of course one would spell better when writing, if one was learning spelling thru writing. I think we will move in this direction, but it's going to take a large amount of effort from me, because I never learned spelling rules or grammar. I could never see past the meaning of the words to understand how to parse them. Now that I am beginning to teach grammar, I am slowly understanding it. However, it's still not normal for me. (Just the concept of an affix changing the part-of-speech was simply astounding to me :huh:).

Heather, Thanks for all your feed-back. My 5yo dd knows all her sounds and has started to write on her own (but she's not reading yet). I was planning on purchasing phonics magnets and using an approach similar to Reading Reflex with her, so AAS would kill two birds with one stone. I can see AAS helping me learn spelling rules, so that I could help ds apply them both during spelling and dictation.

My husband is so thankful to you all. I only need to think "Curriculum Choices?," and he starts to glaze over :D. Well, I'm off to look for Vocabulary Through Morphemes at the trusty local library - always a good time to learn something new!

#19 MerryAtHope

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 11:54 PM

How much dictation does AAS incorporate? The samples I saw (book 1) were brief, with no meaning attached to them (not a passage from a book or such). Does this change? Are review words used in dictation? (Now off to read your blog :))

Thanks All,


The dictation in Level 1 is only short phrases. In Level 2 there is a combination of phrases and sentences, and in level 3 on up it switches to only sentences. They are not from literature, they are just made up sentences. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes questions or exclamations. This would be the kind of dictation that you would use to work specifically on spelling, and would provide support for simple mechanics (like caps for proper nouns, ending punctuation) and some homophones.

I do additional copywork from our readers or read-alouds for teaching other LA concepts (literary devices, powerful verbs, etc...)

I was planning on purchasing phonics magnets and using an approach similar to Reading Reflex with her, so AAS would kill two birds with one stone. I can see AAS helping me learn spelling rules, so that I could help ds apply them both during spelling and dictation.


I used Reading Reflex to teach both of my kids to read, and AAS is like a more organized, more systematic approach in my view.

HTH & hope you & your son can decide what will work best for him, and what will work with your other children :-).

Merry :-)


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